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Avoiding pitfalls in social media compliance, security

Expert Mike Chapple offers regulatory compliance advice regarding the management of enterprise social media accounts.

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The first thing you should remember when considering social media security is that everything said on social media is inherently public. You should plan to follow the same guidelines you use for any release of public information when considering a social media presence. The news is full of organizations that have been burned when someone with access to a corporate social media account posted offensive content, intentionally or accidentally, to the organization's feed.

Next, carefully control the passwords to your social media accounts. Make sure that each account is protected with a strong password and that the password is known only to a very small number of individuals. Unfortunately, most social media services are set up in a consumer-oriented fashion and do not have advanced access controls that allow delegation of posting authority, etc. If you need to grant multiple people access to your account, consider using a third-party service that mediates access without requiring shared passwords.

Finally, use common sense when it comes to social media and compliance requirements. Obviously, social media should never be used for credit card processing or to exchange other sensitive information. Publicly traded companies should also be aware of their obligations under Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) information disclosure regulations. The CEOs of Twitter and Zipcar both recently learned this the hard way when they ran afoul of Regulation Fair Disclosure by posting information to their social media accounts, which had not been filed with the SEC in advance. Information security managers may not have a lot of direct control over what their CEOs do on social media or otherwise, but it's wise to at least do your best to incorporate dos and don'ts into the organization's social media security and compliance best practices policy.

This was first published in April 2013

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